• How do you comfort a friend who has stage IV cancer when you are doing well with yours?

    Asked by buckhunter on Tuesday, April 24, 2018

    How do you comfort a friend who has stage IV cancer when you are doing well with yours?

    I have two friends, both are diagnosed with stage IV cancer, one has been sent home with hospice, the other was told no treatment would work, but then they started chemo with the hopes that it might work. I feel like I need to talk to them, but I don't know how to have a conversation about "keeping positive", or "keep fighting", or some of the other crap that we hear. They are probably not going to make it, this is real. What would you say?

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • Raeleen's Avatar

      i would say never give up! Don't do chemo, change to a plant based diet, and drink a minimum of 1 gallon of purified water daily. See if that doesn't change your world! Stay in prayer as much as possible!! Always request God's healing!

      9 months ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Buckhunter, I am not a cancer patient... I am a cancer nurse as well as an end of life nurse. I have been with well over 500 at their last moment and have had the conversation you are struggling with so many more times than I can count. Sometimes it isn't about who is luckier than the other or who is in a better place at any given time. Sometimes it's about the compassion between two people. If I were you, I would just say a few things. Tell them that you cannot imagine how they are feeling so ask them what you can do to help make this part of their journey easier or more comfortable. As a friend that could be anything from errands to just listening. And the other thing you can say is that you may not understand what they are feeling but at this moment, you are there, so tell them to please feel free to use you in any way that will help them. There comes a point in everyone's life when their will to live becomes a will to leave. It takes time and when their choices become few it is then that the option they would normally never consider becomes a viable one. I can tell you that I have seen maybe 1 person who was not prepared when that last day arrived. But...all others were happy with the choice to let go when they did. In the realm of oncology there is always another option...you can always find a doctor that is willing to go further, a study, or unconventional therapy if a person were to refuse to accept that there is nothing more that can be done. I tell my patients that up to their last breath they will always have choices and my role is to support their choices whether it is hospice or trying to find that miracle in Mexico. All any patient really wants is for someone to be there in the moment. So...be there for them. A good ear can mean the world to someone and just voicing their sadness or concerns will give them great relief. I think you will do just fine. You have a heart that desires to bring comfort. Grab their hand, say little if need be... they will know you are there. Good luck and I hope I have given you some options to consider.

      9 months ago
    • geekling's Avatar

      I am completely unfond of doctors who think they are Oracles. I wish they would be more truthful instead of trying to remove all hope from a patient.

      Why cant they just say "I do not know how to help you. Wishing you great success in a search for someone or something which can."?

      Unless a person is too weak to battle for life any more, there is no reason to abandon hope, miracles, alternative modalities.

      I remember a young p.o.s. (you can surely guess what the initials are for) who told me, with assuredness and full authority, that unless I submitted to his methodology there was no way I would be going forward and nothing else to be done for me.

      The s.o.a.b did not know that I had already survived 13 years sans a diagnosis, was relieved to finally know what I was struggling against, and had zero intention of placing my life in his hands with just 60%/40% odds in my favor.

      Long story short I backed him out of the room by spitting out reminders that he had no clue about my future or lack thereof, was not a god to be making predictions with any accuracy, and was welcome to go back to his hometown to learn bedside manners and that he was Not gonna get his mitts on me.

      When a doctor has no clue, find a different doctor. As a friend, you have their back, can offer to assist with this or that, and really dont wish to me missing them any time soon.

      New food choices rigidly kept to, calmness, gratitude, and no expectations along with mindful meditations, and the right combo of alternatives and lifestyle can sometimes force they know nothing know it alls to scamper away.

      Never give up. There are always other ways to skin the proverbial cat. Good luck to each of your pals to find such a way for themselves.

      Dont let survivor guilt ruin a great friendship. Be proactive and enjoy your time with your friends.

      9 months ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      I think the big thing is just to be a friend. They may not need a cheerleader. Be yourself w/them, as you've always been. If they are up to enjoying stuff you used to do together, do it. Whether it's something physical, like a walk or bowling or whatever, or if it's just playing a game of chess or some poker.

      9 months ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      Been there, done that ... and it is very difficult. I still haven't totally reconciled the fact that my friend Bud died within a month or so of diagnosis and I'm still rocking along, doing well.

      What I did was visit him by phone and in the hospital or at a restaurant as frequently as I could. I didn't "preach" anything to him about being positive or having hope. I was just there for him. If he had questions about lung cancer and how I was treated, I answered. We were angry together at his circumstances and at how his oncologist seemed to have her head up her behind. At the end, we cried together. But, we did a lot of laughing together, too. Despite his dire circumstances, he kept his great sense of humor.

      Bud, nor his family, resented the fact that I am doing well. All the way to the end, they told me repeatedly that I was an inspiration and that they were thrilled I was doing so well. I privately spoke to his sister and told her I felt so guilty being "healthy" when he was not. She assured me that no one, no one, in the family felt anything but joy at how I was doing. My health had nothing to do with the fact that Bud was dying.

      All of that to say - just be there for them. And try, try, try not to feel guilty about the fact that you're doing well. As Bud's sister told me, my good health in no way influenced his bad health.

      Hugs. It isn't easy on many levels.

      9 months ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      @carm, wow! Beautifully said.

      9 months ago
    • JaneA's Avatar

      It is very difficult - I lost my best rectal cancer buddy - she was Stage III at diagnosis and I was Stage IV, but she always told me that she was going to be the first to go because of her genetic mutations. She was right - she progressed 7 months after her big surgery and was gone 11 months later. She lived in New England, and I live in Georgia. We emailed almost every day and spent a week together 5 months before she died. We just talked like regular girl friends. She didn't resent that I had become NED. Sometimes, she would ask me about practical issues - should I get rid of the china so my husband and son don't have to do it? I told her no - let them decide what to do with the household things because they may want to remember what a great cook you were for them.

      Most of all, don't let them feel abandoned. Ask them if they'd like to meet for lunch. Volunteer to bring a casserole on chemo day. Volunteer to run errands like a trip to the bank or to the grocery. Be yourself and be their friends.

      9 months ago
    • cllinda's Avatar

      I agree with JaneA. Don't let them feel abandoned at the last stage of their life. I remember when I was so sick, my friend would just pick me up for coffee. And let me talk and cry without judgement.
      A trip to a park, a movie or ice cream could lift their spirits. I know it helped me.

      9 months ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar

      I lost a friend to breast cancer last year. We were diagnosed about the same time, both early stagers, both in the same local support group. She died just a few months after her cancer metastasized. I visited her in Hospice and listened. Like @carm, I told her I couldn't imagine what she was going through. (She said, "Neither can I!" It all happened so quickly and she was still incredulous.) I offered to do whatever she needed me to do -- whether it was bringing her water, massaging her feet, bringing in my CD player because the one she had wasn't working, etc., or just listening. She also had very good family support.

      The whole "positivity" racket is overblown. My friend knew what she was facing (she had been a Hospice nurse, herself). As much as she loved another person in our circle, that other person is perpetually energized and upbeat, and my friend could take only so much of that. Our mutual friend is wonderful in many situations; this was just not one of them. As the saying goes, to everything there is a season.

      Listen to your friends and follow their leads. Hugs.

      9 months ago
    • SandiA's Avatar

      That’s a hard one. I would just try and be there. Maybe just let them talk. I know when I was told my cancer was stage 4 and my odds pretty much stunk I appreciated people who where just there. Allowed me to talk and be myself and say whatever I wanted to say without trying to fix it. I have a good friend that has a habit of listening to people and picking up on things they are saying and then filling a need. She has done that for me many times. I have learned from her sometimes just listening you can find out how you can help.

      9 months ago

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